is somewhat of a surprise to come to the realization that BLONDE
FAITH is Walter Mosley’s 10th Easy Rawlins thriller. It seems
there have been more, far more. Rawlins quietly became an
icon even as Mosley became both a role model for minority writers
and an argument against giving African-American authors a separate
but equal genre classification that intentionally distinguishes
their work and unintentionally marginalizes it from a larger
This is easily the best book in the series, which screams to be
read in one sitting thanks to its flowing, unstoppable narrative.
Mosley’s storylines have always reflected the complexity of
the life of his protagonist, a black man living in the southwest
United States in the mid-20th century. With this new novel, Mosley
streamlines things a bit, keeping the plot basic without
sacrificing the richness of the tale.
BLONDE FAITH takes place in Los Angeles in 1967, where a city and
political power structure remain uneasy in the aftermath of the
Watts riots. Rawlins’s life, somewhat turbulent even in the
best of times, becomes more so when his two best friends suddenly
go missing. Christmas Black, a Vietnam veteran, drops off his
adoptive daughter at Rawlins’s house without warning or
explanation and is apparently on the run. Meanwhile,
Rawlins’s friend Mouse is being sought by the police for
murder, and Rawlins is convinced that, due to Mouse’s
longstanding antagonistic relationship with the police, the
authorities will not be taking any prisoners.
Even as Rawlins begins the dual tasks of finding Christmas and
rescuing Mouse, he finds out that Bonnie, his longtime but
estranged lover, is on the verge of marrying another man. This
knowledge haunts and distracts him, even as he begins tracing
Christmas’s whereabouts and slowly but surely learns that the
man who Mouse is accused of murdering is in fact alive and well and
on the run himself. Rawlins comes to realize that his best shot at
saving Mouse is locating the man Mouse supposedly murdered.
What is most interesting about this book is the manner in which
Mosley quietly demonstrates to his audience (if not to Rawlins
himself) that the things that have the potential to bring Rawlins
his best chance at happiness are in his immediate grasp.
The conclusion is easily the most unique and shocking of any
featured in Mosley’s work thus far. Fairly unambiguous but
leaving just a bit of wiggle room for a sequel, this is sure to be
one of Mosley’s most controversial novels to date,
particularly among his longtime fans. It is for this reason, and
all that comes before, that BLONDE FAITH is a must-read.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010